Microsoft uses headlines to read the future

One day, headlines like these could be predicting the future.

Computers can often outperform humans at certain things, such as number crunching and (possibly) chess. Yet when it comes to predicting the future, computers haven't really seen much action.

On the surface, a PC ought to work pretty well at this stuff; they're already capable of predicting where crimes are likely to occur, for example. Microsoft Research and the Technion Institute of Technology in Israel have come together to let PCs analyze headlines to try to predict future events.

Eric Horvitz, a 'Distinguished Scientist' at Microsoft and one of the Research branch's co-directors, had the following to say:

I truly view this as a foreshadowing of what’s to come. Eventually this kind of work will start to have an influence on how things go for people.

Big words, but do they have any weight? One test concluded that cholera in Angola was likely after droughts in 2006; correct, as these images show. Other tests with disease, violence and deaths resulted in 70-90% accuracy, so maybe. Horvitz also raised the idea about what more can we learn from older information.

Tests used 22 years of New York Times archives, from 1986 until 2007 (inclusive) alongside info on the Internet. DBPedia, WordNet, and OpenCyc all became significant parts of the prediction process. Microsoft isn't the first company to have looked into their crystal ball with a computer, but with more than 90 sources used, they're the most comprehensive.

There's no plan to release the technology to the public, but in the future it could be a massive boon to humanitarian groups and their ilk. There's a definite market for it: Recorded Future, a start-up based on similar intentions, also harvests information from published statements to build up an idea of the future.

Source: BGR and Technology Review | Image via Shutterstock

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"Microsoft isn't the first company to have looked into their crystal ball with a computer, but with more than 90 sources used, they're the most comprehensive"
Really? I was under the impression that the IBM system had a humongous collection of websites?

n_K said,
"Microsoft isn't the first company to have looked into their crystal ball with a computer, but with more than 90 sources used, they're the most comprehensive"
Really? I was under the impression that the IBM system had a humongous collection of websites?

You're thinking of the IBM supercomputer that can run the internet? It is not running the internet. It just can.

How influcence this predict the future, and because of this the own predict? If a tool like this would tell that the potato price decrease, how much the potato price decrease because of this predict? On the article pictured, how many will lost their job only because of this predict?

Edited by Lastwebpage, Feb 3 2013, 8:09pm :

FoxieFoxie said,
Can it predict when I will get laid?

If you're Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, yes, it can. You have to be mentioned in the news.

Yes, the computer can see if you are in an area with a high percentage of single or woman who are willing to sleep with a man. The computer can also match information about you and those woman. At the end there will be a percentage. For example, if you never leave the house and no woman ever enter your house then we can predict you will not get laid.

Predict a recession or depression and people panic. People panic, causing the recession. Forecasting the future can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Paycheque in making i guess for real !!!!

This research should be banned as some people, specially business organisations can make huge and "illegal" profit with future prediction !!!

Biological weapons / chemical weapons and now this one should be banned totally, specially if any business organisation is involved.

Man, they will get the ability to literally control everything.

Knowing future is cheating with others since every one else will lose the competition